Kahuna & The Copa Cat Pack
John Noble wrote the song "Hawaiian War Chant" in 1929,
he unintentionally laid the foundation for America's love affair
with the luau. Tommy Dorsey covered it as a fast swing number
in '39, and now, some 60 years later, Matt Catingub, a.k.a. Big
Kahuna, has brought swing back to the Tiki party. Hawaiian
Swing, Big Kahuna & The Copa Cat Pack's debut album, is
one of the best modern swing recordings to hit store shelves in
began his career in 1979 when, at the age of 17, he played the
Monterey Jazz Festival and was noticed by the great Dizzy Gillespie.
Over the next few years, Catingub honed his arranging and alto
sax skills under the direction of legendary jazz and big band artists Thad jones (alto sax), Mel Lewis (drums) and band leader
Louie Bellson (drums). Today, at age 38, Catingub is the conductor
and arranger for the Honolulu Symphony Pops Orchestra by day and
the self-professed Big Kahuna of Swing by night.
Hawaiian Swing, Catingub exhibits that he was a straight-A
student. "Come On-a-My House," the opening number, jumps
out of the speakers and lures you straight to the dance floor. Then,
without a moment's rest, the Copa Cat Pack launch into a strong
horn laden version of "A-Tisket A-Tasket." With 17 truly
great tracks to choose from, it's hard to pick the standouts, but
I especially enjoyed "Don't Be That Way/Stopmin' at the Savoy"
in which Catingub has a duet with vocalist Linda Harmon. "The
Hukilau Song" is also a great dance number with campy lyrics
about a fun day spent fishing. (Hulilau refers to the Hawaiian tradition
of fishing by scaring the seafood into big nets.) Beginning to end,
Hawaiian Swing is a milestone album that you'll be hearing
in swing clubs for years to come.